Monday, January 31, 2011

Sen. Burks Calls For Eliminating Hall Income Tax

As the Tennessee General Assembly gets to work this month, State Senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey already has half a dozen bills filed that may see action this term. One would eliminate the Hall income tax in Tennessee by 2015. That's a tax paid by people with investment or other income, rather than just earned wages. Another bill would prevent retired emergency workers -- like firefighters and paramedics -- from getting any additional retirement credit if they agree to work on a temporary basis after their official retirement date. And a third bill would require state flags to be flown at half-staff during any day of mourning declared by the governor for Tennessee national guard members killed in action. That bill has been referred to the Senate's State and Local Government committee.

Man Charged With Burglarizing Car Dealer

Some investigative work by employees of a local car dealer has led to a burglary charge being filed against a Cookeville man.  An employee of the Cookeville Kia dealership told police that he had seen someone's feet underneath a bathroom stall as the business was closing Saturday night, but when he went back to check, no one was there.  Workers then conducted a search and reportedly found 30-year-old Stephen Lee Morgan of Autumn Avenue lying underneath a fuel tank.  They reportedly held him at gunpoint until police arrived. Morgan tried to convince authorities that he, too, worked at the business, but none of the managers could confirm that.  He was charged with burglary for allegedly gaining access to the business with the intent to steal from it.

Putnam County Man Charged With Identity Theft

Stealing from the dead. That's the allegation against a Monterey man, charged with identity theft. Police claim 25-year-old Zachary Earl Reeves called up a bank and attempted to have his name put on an account of someone who had passed away -- allegedly in the hopes of being able to draw money out that account. Meanwhile, in a separate case, Algood police charged 42-year-old Bud L. Vines of Cookeville with forgery and theft. They allege that Vines forged a check for more than a thousand dollars in order to buy building supplies at a local hardware store last year. 

March Arraignment Set For Rape Suspect

A Monterey man has been charged with rape and aggravated assault after an incident at his home on South Poplar Street over the weekend.  According to reports, 37-year-old Michael Kenneth Winn will be in court on March 7th to answer charges that he assaulted a female acquaintance in his home and threatened to kill her when police arrived to investigate a suspicious 911 call.  Warrants in the case claim that the victim was beaten and strangled by Winn and was sexually assaulted.  Police say the victim had to be hospitalized for treatment of her injuries. Total bond for Winn was set at $32,000.

Tech Holds Football Awards Dinner

Junior wide receiver Tim Benford received the prestigious Robert Hill Johnson award for the second time in his decorated career and eight other teammates accepted honors Sunday evening as the 2010 Tennessee Tech football squad was recognized at the team’s annual Awards Dinner. Fourth-year head coach Watson Brown and his staff handed out five long-standing awards plus five newer honors after the Golden Eagles posted a 5-6 overall record in 2010. Among winners selected by team voting, Tre Lamb received the Team Leadership Award, Kelechi Ordu accepted the Tech Pride Award, and Cass Barnes the Unsung Hero Award. Three awards that were established last year included the Offensive MVP (Jocques Crawford), Defensive MVP (Dustin Dillehay and Kelechi Ordu) and Special Teams MVP (Henry Sailes). Brown and his staff added awards for the top Offensive Lineman (Slade Adams) and top Defensive Lineman (Justin Hilliard).

Balloon Artist Brings Giant Sculptures To TTU

Giant, colorful balloon sculptures will overtake the Bryan Fine Arts Building at Tennessee Tech University later this month -- all part of an installation by a New York sculptor and performance artist. Organizers describe Jason Hackenwerth's exhibit as children's balloon art on steroids. This is a Center Stage event, which is free and open to the public. Hackenwerth's massive balloon sculptures are made out of thousands of balloons that, once inflated, bring to life animals, microorganisms and even structural engineering feats of nature like coral reefs. Hackenwerth's piece "The Megamite," inspired by the bed bug epidemic is an example of his balloon sculpture-as-performance approach.

"I make an insect-like wearable sculpture with latex balloons and use it to maraud, flirt and antagonize viewers. After, the sculpture is destroyed in front of or sometimes by those who had been confronted," he writes. "The work expresses an allegory that is experienced personally between the artist and the viewers. In this process, the object is obliterated, leaving behind only the participants."

Hackenwerth earned his bachelor of fine arts degree from Webster University in St. Louis and his master's of fine arts from Savannah College of Art and Design. He has exhibited internationally, with solo exhibitions and performances at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, Art Basel in Miami Beach, the City Museum in St. Louis, Jang Heung Art Park in Seoul, and the Scope Art Show in London. Group exhibitions include the Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Vara Global in Venice and the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, Calif.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Appeals Court Upholds Local Judge's Decision

A Putnam County man convicted of murdering his estranged wife nearly four years ago continues to file appeals from his prison cell in Pikeville, Tennessee.  The most recent petition from James A. Burgess, acting as his own attorney, is called a "writ of error coram nobis."  That's where a defendant alleges that new evidence has been discovered that could lead to a different conclusion as to his guilt.  Judge David Patterson issued an order last year denying that petition because, he said, it was “merely a recitation of what the defendant alleges are trial errors” and contained no allegations of newly discovered evidence. This month, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with the trial court that the evidence -- showing Burgess's ownership of the home where he killed the victims -- did not constitute newly discovered evidence.

Court Date Set For Alleged Robber

A February 21st court date has been set for a Cookeville man, charged with robbing the owner of the Rose Garden restaurant last year.  Police say 23-year-old Joshua Lee Boyer came up to the woman who owns the restaurant as she was leaving after closing on November 28th. He is accused of grabbing a paper bag she was carrying and running away. Police say Boyer apparently thought the bag contained money, but -- in fact -- it contained only some paperwork for the business. He reportedly tossed down the bag and ran from the scene when it found out it didn't have any cash.

Arrests Made In Several Theft & Burglary Cases

The Putnam County sheriff's department says a Baxter man is charged with two counts of aggravated burglary after allegedly breaking into the same house on two different occasions.  Authorities accuse 22-year-old Stacy Matthew Elrod of breaking into a home last October and stealing a gun. They say he broke into the same home the next day and stole several knives and a shotgun, among other merchandise. In a separate case, the sheriff's office says a gun stolen in another burglary was later sold to a gun dealer. An investigation of that case led authorities to charge 21-year-old Ricky Trent King of Buffalo Valley with theft. Meanwhile, two Putnam County men, who allegedly refused to pay for a meal at a local restaurant, have been charged with theft of services.  Police say 25-year-old Eric Lee Ferrell of Cookeville and 26-year-old Jerry Dewayne Tollett of Monterey were also charged with public intoxication following an incident at the Waffle House on South Willow Avenue.  According to police reports, Ferrell was accused of urinating in the entrance as the two came into the business at about one am.

Upper Cumberland Women's Club To Meet

The Upper Cumberland Women’s Club has announced that their February Luncheon will be held on February 8th at Nick’s Restaurant in Cookeville. The meeting will be held at noon. The guest speaker for this luncheon will be Sharon Gray, a retired banker from Byrdstown. Her topic will be “First Impressions, Understanding Different Personality Styles.” The cost for the luncheon is $15 per person and seats should be reserved by this Friday, February 4th, by calling Dale Hollow Marketing Group toll-free at 877-864-8666. The Upper Cumberland Women’s Club is a group of mostly professional and retired women who meet bi-monthly at various locations throughout the area. For more information, you can visit the website

Business Seminar To Be Presented In Cookeville

If you are thinking of starting your own business, the Tennessee Small Business Development Center is offering a free seminar next month that may help.  "How to Start a Business" is the title of the seminar being presented from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10, at Progressive Savings Bank on Interstate Drive in Cookeville. Led by Vicki Henley, director of the TTU Small Business Development Center, the seminar will address topics of interest to potential entrepreneurs and new small business owners. Those topics include business startup basics, business structures, challenges for startups, business planning, cash needs, financing options, and more. Although admission is free, registration is required and can be done by visiting the website at or calling the TSBDC's office at TTU at (931) 372-3292.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Jobless Rate Up Again In Putnam County

Despite ongoing efforts by local officials to improve the job market, Putnam County's unemployment rate went up again December, according to figures from the Department of Labor. The state says Putnam County's jobless rate was 8.7 percent, a tenth of a point higher than it was in November. Some officials had hoped that the number of people who were out of work might go down in December because that's the time of year that some local businesses hire temporary seasonal workers. But that was apparently not the case this year, even though officials point out that the December 2010 unemployment rate was still better than it was in December of 2009, when nearly ten percent of the population was without a job. Last month, out of a labor force of 35,620 people, nearly 3,100 were looking for work. Around the region, the jobless rate was 9.6 percent in Overton County -- down three tenths of a point. It was 10.7 percent in Jackson County and 11.8 percent in White County.

Drunk Driver Allegedly High On Plant Food

Cookeville police say it's not always alcohol that those arrested for DUI are "under the influence" of.  Police say a man pulled over this week for driving erratically was allegedly intoxicated on plant food.  Authorities had stopped 30-year-old Mitchell Ray Swallows vehicle on 10th Street about three o'clock in the morning and say he tried to run from the scene before being Tasered and taken into custody.  According to the report by Officer Brandon Tayes,  Swallows allegedly said that he had been taking something called Molly plant food. According to Tayes' report, that foodhas the same effect as methamphetamine and Ecstasy. The officer sas that Swallows told him that he was a long term meth user and that he had been up for three days.

Local Schools To Try New Notification Program

Officials with the Putnam County school system are already using their website, as well as traditional broadcast outlets, to let parents know when schools are closing or when something is happening that might affect their children.  But efforts are now underway to improve that notification system with 21st century technology.  It's called the School Messenger alert system, and it will allow the school system to send text messages, voice mails or e-mails very quickly to a large number of individuals.  Only parents who sign up for the program would receive them. Officials say the program is already in place at Avery Trace Middle School and is being tested at other schools around the county. They say it is meant to supplement, rather than replace the current methods of communication.

Efforts Underway To Purchase Cummins Falls

Cummins Falls, which is located on private property in Jackson County, is now being promoted as a potential new tourist attraction by the Highlands Initiative of the local Chamber of Commerce. It is being billed as the largest waterfall still in private ownership in the state of Tennessee. And while it is not on public property, many local hikers gain access to the Falls every year, and authorities say there have been numerous reports of people being injured at that location over the years. A fundraising campaign has now been organized by the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, which is seeking to wrap up the purchase of land at the falls.Foundation President Kathleen Williams says Cummins Falls offers what she called "spectacular" scenery.

Dutch A Capella Group To Perform At TTU

A Dutch vocal ensemble called Quink visits Tennessee Tech University for a performance next month. They're scheduled to be in town on Saturday, Feb. 5,  for a 7:30 pm performance at the Bryan Fine Art Building's Wattenbarger Auditorium. The performance, part of TTU's Center Stage series, is free and open to the public. Organizers of the event say Quink is a remarkable group of five Dutch singers with a specialized style that encompasses many areas of the a capella repertoire from early Renaissance to music of today.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grand Jury Hands Down 55 Drug Indictments

The drug investigation unit of the Putnam County sheriff's office is wrapping up a year-long undercover investigation during which time they coordinated the purchase of illegal drugs from a variety of individuals.  Evidence of those drug buys was presented to the grand jury, which handed down 55 separate indictments.  Authorities say the drug buys were made in cars, in parking lots, outside of area bars, and inside the homes of several suspects.  The drugs involved included prescription medications, methamphetamine, crack cocaine and marijuana.  Deputies have now begun rounding up the suspects, and the sheriff's department says, when all is said and done, several thousand dollars worth of stolen property may also be recovered in connection with the investigation.

More Cases Resolved In Criminal Court

An Overton County man will be spending six years in prison after pleading guilty this week to several counts of aggravated burglary.  21-year-old Lowell Tyler Ambs of Rickman reportedly told the judge that he had committed a series of burglaries because he was addicted to drugs and needed money to pay for them.  He was arrested in January of last year after police caught him and another man breaking into apartments on Summerhaven Avenue in Cookeville.  As part of his plea, Ambs must also pay restitution to the victims.  Also in court this week, former Putnam County sheriff's deputy David Shannon Blackwell pleaded guilty to issuing a series of worthless checks. He had already pled guilty on charges of theft and burglary for stealing jewelry from his brother and also breaking into a local business to steal money.  Blackwell must also pay restitution to the victims, but was given judicial diversion on the charges, which means that if he stays out of trouble while he is on supervised probation for the next five years, he could be eligible to have his record cleared.

Sentencing Decided In Center Hill Lake Killing

A man convicted of committing a homicide on Center Hill Lake last year has now agreed to a negotiated sentence for his crime. In Dekalb County Criminal Court on Wednesday, 39-year-old James Vernon of Rock Island, Tennessee, accepted a four-year sentence on his conviction for reckless homicide in the death of 24-year-old Daniel Joseph Clark. Clark was beaten to death on a houseboat in July of 2009. Court officials say Vernon accepted the four year sentence rather than go through a sentencing hearing, which would have determined his punishment. The normal prison term for reckless homicide is two to four years. He will receive credit for time he has already served while awaiting his trial and sentencing. Authorities say Vernon had severely beaten Clark during an attack on a houseboat at Center Hill Lake July 7th, 2009. Clark died a week later from his injuries. Police say the altercation was apparently over Vernon's missing wallet, which he accused Clark of stealing.

Scam Artists Roaming The Area

Cookeville police say scam artists are hitting the area lately with a variety of cons that cost people money. In at least two cases, men have been able to steal money from local restaurants by pulling what is commonly known as the "quick change" scam. That's when a customer keeps asking for various exchanges of money from a cashier and then arguing that they have been shortchanged. If they can get the clerk confused enough, they can get away -- in some cases -- with a couple of hundred dollars. Police say the two most recent incidents were reported at Walmart and at Arby's. They have video surveillance of at least one of the scammers. Meanwhile, police say an elderly woman reported to them that two men came to her door allegedly trying to sell floor coverings. She says that one of the men kept her talking while the other wandered the house. When they had left she found that she was missing $35 dollars, taken when one of the con men had gone through her purse. They had also opened a jewelry box, but had not apparently taken anything.

"Learning Villages" Expanding At Tech

At Tennessee Tech University, faculty heads will soon be chosen to lead the two so-called Learning Villages established this year. One village will focus on Service and Leadership, while the other will concentrate on the Environment. Those selected will replace the Faculty heads currently in those roles, who will be moving to the two new Villages, focused on engineering and women, for Fall 2011. Tech officials say the Faculty head has broad responsibility for fostering the personal, social, and intellectual growth of students and for creating a strong sense of community. Preparation for relevant duties will begin this spring. The position is open to anyone who will be a tenured, full-time TTU faculty member at the time of appointment. Compensation and support include an academic-year stipend of $5,000 and 50 percent release from the normal teaching load.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Prison Sentence Handed To Rapist

A two-year-old rape case that was set to go to trial this week has now been settled with a guilty plea from the defendant and a 25-year prison sentence.  Court officials say 23-year-old Waford Knight Bryant entered the plea before Judge Leon Burns this week.  The case stems from an incident in November of 2008 in which Bryant was accused of crawling through the attic of an apartment building he lived in to gain access to a neighbor's apartment. He then attacked the victim, a 21-year-old college student.  Police say he raped her and then kidnapped her, forcing her to drive him to the bank and then to Roane County, Tennessee, where he tried to strangle her. Authorities say she was then taken to a remote area of Cumberland County, where she managed to escape by fooling Bryant into thinking she was unconscious. Bryant has been in jail since his arrest shortly after the crime.  His guilty plea was to charges of robbery, aggravated rape, and aggravated kidnapping. And the sentence also reportedly covers the attempted murder charges that had been filed against him in Roane County.

Crimestoppers Program Re-Energized

Cookeville police say they hope to put more emphasis in the coming weeks on the local Crimestoppers program, which offers cash rewards to local citizens who call in tips.  The Crimestoppers "Crime of the Week" this week focuses on a series of burglaries at several Cookeville apartments which occurred during the weekend of January 8th. Lt. Carl Sells reports that the homes were broken into by thieves who forced in the front doors. They made off with jewelry, an 18-inch diameter wall clock ... and a set of deer antlers. He says Crimestoppers will pay a reward of up to a thousand dollars for information on this or any other crime. You can call 520-STOP or 267-TIPS to leave that info.

Weather Service Says Storm #5 Is On The Way

If you're keeping count, the National Weather Service says the winter storm that's expected to move into the area overnight is the fifth one to hit Cookeville since the beginning of winter. They describe this particular storm as "dynamic and moist," and say it may leave us with up to four ... or more ... inches of snow. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials and road crews are once again asking those of us who don't absolutely have to get out on the roads to stay home. T-DOT says it will be concentrating mainly on the interstate and the four lane state highways, using both salt and a brine mixture in an attempt to keep the roads as clear as possible.

Women’s Wednesday to Focus on Positive Changes

“Rise UP and Be Fit” will be the topic of February’s Women’s Wednesday luncheon at Cookeville Regional Medical Center featuring TV Host Jennifer Brindley of the Rise UP Daily Workout. Local residents are invited to attend the meeting on Wednesday, February 9th.  Organizers say it will feature "an exciting and informative health presentation that will inspire and motivate you toward positive changes in your health and the health of your family."  The discussion is intended to help people learn strategies that will enable them to overcome weight loss barriers, become "supermarket savvy" and get the latest tips to eating healthy "on the go". Brindley, who is a certified nutritional consultant, will also share her personal weight loss story. The luncheon will be held in Room 3 of the CRMC Education Center beginning at noon. You can bring your lunch or for $6.00 the CRMC Food & Nutrition Catering Department will have one for you. Seating is limited. Call The Women’s Center of Cookeville Regional at 783-2628 by noon Monday, February 7 to reserve a seat.

Cookeville Man Reports Ax Attack

Cookeville police are continuing to investigate an incident in which a masked man began beating on the door of a local residence with an ax while the person inside was calling authorities. Police say it happened last week at a home on CC Camp Road when a man heard a knock on his door and opened it to find a masked man standing there. According to reports, the victim quickly slammed the door shut and called police, and the masked man then began beating on the door with an ax. But authorities say the man was gone by the time officers arrived. The door was heavily damaged, and extra police patrols have been ordered for the area, but police have not said whether they have developed any suspects in the case.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Alleged Burglar Charged After Being Recognized

Cookeville police say a man who kicked in the door of a home on Dyer Avenue early Monday morning fled from the scene after being confronted by the homeowner.  Police say it happened about 2 am when someone broke in through a kitchen door. They say there was no car in the driveway and the burglar may have thought no one was home.  But the homeowner, in fact, was there and recognized the suspect as he ran from the scene. Police say that suspect also later called the victim's cell phone, but denied any part in the burglary.  Warrants were later take out charging 35-year-old Jessie James Pryor of Forrest Hill Road with aggravated burglary in the case. He goes to court next month.

Police Say Armed Robbers Tied Up Victims

Cookeville police are investigating the armed robbery of a Hispanic business on North Washington Avenue Sunday night. Police say the Tienda Los Angeles store was robbed at gunpoint by two men who came into the business just after 10 pm.  One of them pulled out a gun and ordered the owners to lie on the floor. The robbers tied them up with duct tape and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash and the telephone from the business. The men also reportedly told the victims that they would be killed if they called police. Authorities say the two were able to get their hands free and called 911 after the robbers left.  The suspects were described as Hispanic males, who were wearing hooded sweatshirts, but police say the men were strangers to the business owners.  Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the police department.

Cookeville Man Arraigned On Theft Charges

Monday was an arraignment date in Putnam County criminal court, and among the cases on the docket was that of 25-year-old Christopher Timothy Palmer of Shady Oak Circle in Cookeville. He had been indicted by the grand jury on two counts of theft for allegedly stealing two vehicles in November of last year.  Police say at least one of those vehicles did not run and was later sold to a scrap metal dealer.  Palmer had reportedly told police that he had been paid to haul it off.  Police say they developed Palmer as a suspect because of laws requiring scrap metal dealers to keep records on the names of people they buy from.

TTU Lecture: ‘So you want to be a musician?’

"So, you want to be a musician?" is the title of a lecture to be presented at Tennessee Tech next month.  The lecture, part of the Center Stage series, is free and open to the public and begins at 7:30 p.m. on February 2nd in the Wattenbarger Auditorium of the Bryan Fine Arts Building. It's being presented by Philip Collins, the former principal trumpet player for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestras. Organizers say Collins will provide an entertaining lecture summarizing his experiences from more 31 years of performing and recording.

"Rarely can one get a wonderful opportunity like this to learn what goes on behind the scenes in the life of a musician for a major symphony orchestra and to discover some of the challenges of recording more than 100 albums," said TTU trumpet professor Charles Decker.

For more information, contact Decker at 931-372-3711.

Tickets Now On Sale For Backstage Production

Officials with the Cookeville Department of Leisure Services are reminding residents that tickets are now on sale for DOUBT: A Parable, the latest production in the CPAC-Back Stage series.  You can call the Box Office at 528-1313 Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm for Credit/Debit card transactions or you can purchase tickets in the lobby of the performing arts center, located at 10 East Broad Street in Cookeville. The admission price is ten dollars for adults, eight dollars for seniors and five dollasr for full-time students. Limited seating “in the round” is also available. For more information, visit the website,

Cookeville Resident Hosting Charity Event

Cookeville resident Jane Ellen has been chosen to host the fourth annual "A Fashion Affair," to be held in Franklin, Tennessee, later this month. And for that night only, the Johnny Cash family is allowing the use of the historic June Carter Cash collection of bedwear, furs, and other clothing for the event. It will be held on Saturday, January 29 at 6:30 p.m. at The Factory in Franklin, and will mark the first time Mrs. Cash’s items have seen the runway.  A Vintage Affair, the Franklin-based women's and children's charity organization, has organized this special runway tribute to Johnny and June Carter Cash. The show will also feature the “Man In Black's” favorite designer and Nashville icon, Manuel, who dressed Johnny on stage throughout his career.

“We are overwhelmed with the Cash family’s generosity, and we’re excited to have several members of the family with us for the show,” said Ashley W. Roberts, managing director of A Vintage Affair. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a glimpse of the private life and eclectic style of June Carter Cash.”

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., when cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres will be served. The runway show begins at 8 p.m.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cookeville Planners Meet Monday Night

The Cookeville planning commission Monday night will be re-visiting the issue of zoning code amendments relative to package liquor store locations in town. The city council last week passed an ordinance regulating the stores, but decided that the zoning issues needed to be worked on a bit more by the planning commission. Under the ordinance approved by the council, people who want to open a package liquor store in Cookeville must be Putnam County residents and have lived in the county for at least two years. Any stores would have to be located at least 200 feet away from a church and 400 feet from a school. Meanwhile, planning commission members will also take for study a zoning code amendment which would allow Bed and Breakfast establishments in residential zones. The request is being made by Bobby Williams. And they'll consider for study the re-zoning of some property off South Jefferson Avenue from residential to commercial. The meeting begins at 5:30 Monday night in the council chambers at Cookeville city hall.

Local Rotarians Hosting International Night

The Second Annual Rotary International Night is set for January 29, 2011, at 6pm in the Clarion Inn of Cookeville. The event is organized by the Cookeville Breakfast Rotary Club to raise funds for the international and humanitarian programs of Rotary International, such as the global effort to eradicate polio, and the efforts of the club, such as the Rotary Ghana Project. This year’s International Night will put the spotlight on the country of Saudi Arabia with the assistance of the Saudi Students Club of Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. The students, acting as ambassadors for their country, are assisting with displays, menu selections, and entertainment. The event is also being supported by the Tennessee World Affairs Council and, a web site that features information on US-Saudi relations. These organizations have raised money to offset the costs of the event — thereby permitting almost all of the $25 per person ticket price to go to the Rotary’s good works. For more information, call 526-7125.

Friday, January 21, 2011

White County Men Charged 2nd Time For Fraud

Two men in White County are charged with TennCare drug fraud - both for the second time each.  The Office of Inspector General (OIG) today announced the arrests of Benny Craig, 55, of Doyle and Daniel Burgess, 21, of Sparta. These arrests are the result of a joint effort with the White County Sheriff's Office. Both Craig and Burgess were arrested on indictments alleging they each in separate incidents fraudulently obtained a controlled substance paid for by TennCare, while planning to sell a portion of the prescription drugs.  Craig was last arrested for TennCare fraud in late November in Warren County, where he was accused of obtaining medical benefits he was not entitled to. Burgess was arrested in December of last year in Warren County and charged with obtaining TennCare medical benefits he was not entitled to.

"The selling of TennCare prescription drugs is against the law," Inspector General Deborah Y. Faulkner said. "Enrollees who participate in selling drugs paid for by TennCare - and those who buy them - should understand this is a serious crime we intend to prosecute."

TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Randall A. York is prosecuting. The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $171 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,300 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

TDOT Changes Strategy For Clearing Area Roads

With the National Weather Service forecasting a chance of snow for Monday, Tuesday and maybe even Thursday of this week for the Cookeville area, the Tennessee Department of Transportation is implementing new strategies to conserve resources during snow and ice removal operations. Officials say TDOT's arsenal of salt is being used at a faster rate than their supplier can replenish reserves. So, TDOT will employ some of the other techniques available to clear roadways during weather events in the coming days and weeks. Crews will increase the use of salt brine and calcium chloride, both of which can successfully melt snow and ice from roads, and will help stretch existing salt supplies until new salt shipments arrive in early February. TDOT will also use its fleet of snow plows to remove any snow accumulation from interstates and state routes.
"Once salt reserves are restored, TDOT will resume typical snow and ice removal operations on all state routes," TDOT Maintenance Division Director Greg Duncan said. "Until our salt supplies are replenished, we ask that motorists and residents use extreme caution as we face several more weeks of winter."

For more information on travel conditions on interstates and state routes across Tennessee visit or call 511 from any land line or cell phone.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Election Commission Mulls Moving Precincts

The details have yet to be worked out, but members of the Putnam County Election Commission this week voted to use the new Prescott South schools, which opened this month as the location of TWO voting precincts in the future. One of the precincts is currently located in the Cookeville Electric Department building on Davis Road, while the other had made use of the Water Department building on South Jefferson Avenue. But election officials say their effort to make sure all precincts are as accessible to voters as possible led them to consider using the new elementary school for one polling location and the middle school for the other. When the details are finalized, which may not be for several months yet, any affected voters will be notified.

Court Date Set For Alleged Beer Thieves

February 28th has been set as the court date for two Cookeville men, who allegedly stole a case of Bud Light beer from Walmart, and also damaged a plastic wall covering in the process.  Police say 28-year-old Shannon Dale Kelly and 27-year-old Benton Dale Long were cited after Walmart security guards caught them allegedly cutting "a large hole in the plastic wall of the garden center and attempted to shove the beer through the hole." They were charged with both theft and vandalism.  According to the reports, the beer was valued at less than twenty dollars, but the damage to the wall was more than five hundred.

TVA Holds Public Hearing In Cookeville

The Tennessee Valley Authority is conducting a public meeting Thursday, in Cookeville, to receive comments on the potential environmental effects of a proposed power supply improvement in Putnam and neighboring counties. The public can obtain more information and provide comments about the alternatives TVA is considering during an open house, from 3 to 7 pm  at Willow Place Conference Center, Cascade Hall, 225 N. Willow Ave.

According to TVA, a new 500-kilovolt substation or extensive 161-kV transmission upgrades will be required in Putnam and Cumberland counties by 2016 to meet anticipated power loads. They say the population of Putnam and Cumberland counties has grown nearly 1.8 percent per year since 2000. And TVA studies indicate 19 substations will not meet acceptable voltage criteria by 2016, and the remaining seven substations will be unable to meet criteria by 2019. TVA has identified three potential alternatives, as well as a fourth option, which is not taking any action. As the details are ironed out, one or more of the alternatives may be eliminated because of various technical aspects, unacceptable environmental impacts or unreasonably high economic costs. TVA expects to evaluate multiple sites for the new substation and various routing options for new transmission lines. TVA says its goal is to identify a solution that minimizes impacts to homeowners, property owners, existing environmental and historical features and planned development. Comments may be submitted either at the open house, by mail, e-mail or fax, through Feb. 22, 2011.

TTU's Danner Receives Composition Award

Tennessee Tech University music professor Greg Danner has won the grand prize in the 2010 Composers Guild annual composition contest. "The Greatest Generation," Danner's composition for narrator and concert band, was commissioned by the American School Band Directors Association. The work premiered at the association's 57th annual convention held in Nashville in June 2009. Inspired by Tom Brokaw's eloquent testament to the World War II generation, the music sets the background for a reading of four soldiers' letters that highlight the emotion of those difficult times and the victorious struggle to preserve our freedom. The letters range from reflective and humorous commentaries to a dramatic description chronicling one soldier's experience landing at Normandy, France, on D-Day. The Composers Guild sponsors an international composition contest in 10 categories of music. Last year marked their 41st annual competition. Danner's score was named first place in the instrumental/orchesta/band category and was the overall grand prize winner for the competition.

Cookeville Physician Relocating Office

Effective Tuesday, February 1, Dr. Brad Seitzinger will begin seeing patients in a new location at 128 North Whitney Avenue where he will join other primary care and internal medicine physicians with the Physician Associates at Cookeville Regional.  Board certified in Internal Medicine, Dr. Seitzinger earned his medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and completed his Internal Medicine Residency at Mount Carmel Medical Center in Columbus, OH and at the Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine in Youngstown, OH. In his practice, Dr. Seitzinger serves the medical needs of patients from age 14 and up, and he has a special interest in geriatrics and health and fitness. Dr. Sietzinger is taking new patients. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Sietzinger, call 931-528-6852 before February 1. After February 1 you should call 931-783-5848.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TTU President Clarifies Decision To Close

Officials at Tennessee Tech say the snow, sleet and ice that came to the campus and many parts of the South last week presented a rare situation for students, faculty and staff trying to make their way back to campus after holiday break.  They say the timing of the inclement weather presented an unusual situation. Many students found themselves facing severe road conditions between campus and their homes in different parts of the state and region. At the same time, Thursday and Friday classes were separated from the rest of the semester by a three-day break, during which time road conditions were expected to significantly improve.

"We know many people were surprised about the decision to cancel classes on Thursday and Friday," said President Bell. "Our inclement weather policy has consistently led us to decide to hold classes as scheduled and let students and faculty make the best decisions for themselves in regards to their safety. This situation was different. Because so many students were home for the break and in many cases found themselves several hours away, we had to consider this a special circumstance," said Bell.

"We carefully considered the situation as a student, parent, faculty member and staff member would and made the decision I felt appropriate. We know there may be more bad weather this winter, and we still believe our inclement weather policy allows us to serve all students and encourages everyone in the campus community to make decisions to stay safe."

Cast Announced For Backstage Production

The Cookeville Performing Arts Center is gearing up for their next production in the national award-winning Backstage Series. It's a play called DOUBT, A Parable by John Patrick Shanley. Rehearsals have begun under the direction of Kathleen Gilpatrick with Andy Davis in the role of Father Brendan Flynn; and Amy Woods returning to the stage as Sister Aloysius Beauvier, the principal at a Catholic School in the Bronx. Katie Mannle has been cast as Sister James along with Lori Strode as Mrs. Mueller. Production dates are: February 4, 5, 8, 10.11 & 12, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Monday, January 24th. Ticket prices are $10 for Adults, $8 for Seniors, and $5 for full-time students. The CPAC box office can be reached by calling 528-1313 during regular business hours Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.

Sleepy Eyed Fox Wakes Up Backdoor Playhouse

The folk-rock group Sleepy Eyed Fox will play the Backdoor Playhouse at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Jan. 27. Opening for the group will be Jen Richardson and Mary Summerlin. Sleepy Eyed Fox formed in 2009 with members John Essary, Sarah Huddleston and Nick Huddleston. Chad Huddleston and Stephen Earnest were later added to the trio. Their concert in Cookeville is a Center Stage event and is free and open to the public. Center Stage Events are made possible by the General Education Fund, which is supported by student fees.  The campus host for the band, Andy Smith, says the show will feature a culturally unique genre of music and presents young, aspiring musicians in an intimate context that promotes community and interaction.

Tech Coach Talks To Rotary Club Members

Tennessee Tech women’s basketball coach Sytia Messer was the guest speaker Wednesday afternoon at the Cookeville Rotary Club. The second-year coach gave her views on how the 2010-11 season is going and what fans can expect out of the team in the weeks ahead. Last week, men's associate head coach Steve Payne addressed the group.  Speaking to a group of 100 people at the Leslie Town Center, Messer talked about her first-place Golden Eagle squad and in particular, how the newcomers have added to the success the team has experienced through the first half of the season.  The Cookeville Breakfast Rotary is one of 33,000 worldwide with more than 1.2 million members in over 200 countries. The clubs motto is “Service Above Self” and the main objective of the Club is service in the community, in the workplace and throughout the world. In similar fashion, Messer's team is involved in numerous community service projects each year and does a variety of outreach activities that put her players into the community in such roles as working with Habitat for Humanity, volunteer reading days in local schools and most recently, visiting the children at the Mustard Seed Ranch. Tech (12-4, 6-1 OVC) begins a four-game road trip Thursday, as it squares off with Austin Peay. Opening tip is set for 8:15 p.m.

Road Crews Get Ready For More Snow

With more snow in the forecast, Putnam County Road Supervisor Randy Jones says his department will once again be concentrating mainly on the hills and intersections around the county. He told Nashville's Fox 17 News that it was during last week's snow storm that the Highway Department began limiting salt to hills and intersections.And he says Putnam County has already used 388 tons of salt this year, much more than usual. According to Jones, the county has about 150 tons of salt right now, with more on order.  Officials in Cookeville say their supply is about 400 tons right now, and T-DOT says it only has enough salt to make it through one more winter weather system, but orders for more salt have been placed. Both the county and the state say they've gone over budget on salt supplies this winter.

Sex Offender Arrested In "Texting" Case

James Russell Ziles
A White County man is scheduled to be in court Friday on charges that he solicited sex from someone he thought was a teenage boy. Police say 27-year-old James Russell Ziles of Sparta is already a registered sex offender, and allegedly committed the most recent crime by using text messages over a cell phone. What he didn't know was that the messages were being responded to by an undercover police officer. Officials say it was the combined efforts of three local law enforcement agencies that resulted in the arrest of Ziles. Authorities with the Putnam and White county sheriff's offices, as well as the Cookeville police department investigated a case in which Ziles of South Camp Heighs Drive allegedly arranged to meet a teenage boy for sex. He was arrested when he showed up for the rendezvous.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Monterey Tries New Strategy For Clearing Roads

Monterey's Hilltop Express newspaper is reporting that the town will be trying an alternative to spreading salt as they try to keep local roads clear this winter.  The paper says the town has just about used up all of its road salt and is on what's described as "a long waiting list" for more. So now, the Monterey Street Department will be trying another product called a “winter abrasive.” They've ordered 19 tons of it. Officials say it's a mixture of sand and calcium chloride which absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and chemically heats up. They say road salt runs the town around $73 per ton, while thewinter abrasive will be around $50 a ton.

Tech To Face Number One APSU on Thursday

An upset alert is on for Thursday evening’s game between the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles and the top ranked Governors of Austin Peay. The game, which will be broadcasted on and ESPN-U, will tip off at 6:02 p.m. in Clarksville. Tech is coming off of a split week, after downing UT-Martin in triple overtime last Thursday and falling, 92-85 to defending OVC Champs Murray State on Saturday. After last week’s games, the Golden Eagles sit with a 8-8 overall record, 4-3 in the conference.APSU currently holds the no. 1 spot in the OVC with a record of 6-1, with their sole loss coming in overtime on Saturday to Tennessee State. Prior to that game, the Govs had won six straight, and now sit with a record of 12-7. The Govs have the narrowest of edges on Tech over time, having won 68 games to the Golden Eagle’s 65. TTU won two of the last three match-ups though, including a 68-65 win in the first round of the OVC tournament last year on Kevin Murphy’s three-point buzzer-beater. Thursday night’s game has been selected as a one of two “Wild Card” selections by ESPN-U to receive airtime on and ESPN-U, and will be available for viewing on those outlets.

Art Of The Trumpet To Be Celebrated

Tennessee Tech University trumpet professor Charles Decker presents a free recital on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Wattenbarger Auditorium of the Bryan Fine Arts Building on the Tech campus. The recital celebrates the art of trumpet playing with the fourth of seven programs in the year-long TTU Trumpet Festival series that features faculty, alumni and students in solo and ensemble performances. Joining Decker is pianist Joy Rachor, music director at the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Cookeville, former U.S. Navy Band of Washington, D.C., member trumpet alumnus Erich Zimmerman, and Alais saxophone quartet from the studio of professor Phil Barham.The program showcases music by Russian, European and American composers from the baroque, romantic and contemporary eras. Zimmerman and Decker will perform three works including a sonata for two trumpets by Italian 17th century composer Petronio Franceschini. Decker and Rachor are featured in two virtuosic works, "Concerto" by the Russian composer Oskar Boehme and the cornet showpiece "La Mandolinata" by Hermann Bellstedt, soloist with the legendary Sousa Band. To conclude the program Decker joins Alais Saxophone Quartet from the studio of Tech saxophone professor Phillip Barham to perform "Le Gay Paris" by French composer Jean Francaix. Alais Quartet members are Emily Loboda, soprano saxophone; Ben Bjork, alto saxophone; Annie Short, tenor saxophone; and Tyler Dugger, baritione saxophone.  For more information, call the TTU Department of Music and Art at 372-3161.

Putnam Jail Inmates Headed Back To Court

Three Putnam County jail inmates are headed back to court this month -- after allegedly causing disturbances inside the facility.  Authorities say the incidents are unrelated.  A January 24th court date has been set for 33-year-old Christopher Garrett of Monterey, charged with vandalism for allegedly destroying several jail uniforms while he was serving time for non-payment of child support.  Meanwhile, 42-year-old Weylin Trent Strode of Livingston was charged with aggravated assault after allegedly biting a corrections officer during a confrontation earlier this month. And three counts of aggravated assault were brought against 36-year-old Vernon Dwain Wilson of Monterey after he struggled with officers and threatened them with sharp edge of a broken plastic drinking cup. He goes to court January 31st.

Election Commission Seeks AG's Help

The Putnam County Election Commission has voted to ask the state Attorney General to represent them going forward in a federal lawsuit filed by former election administrator Nancy Boman. Federal judge Thomas Wiseman ruled earlier this month that the administrators who filed suit against Republican members of election commissions across Tennessee were not entitled to monetary damages, but the plaintiffs have appealed that decision to the Sixth Circuit Court. Election commission attorney Jerry Daniels says the Attorney General has the option of taking on the case or providing funding to pay for an outside attorney. He says the governor and the comptroller would also have to OK that funding. Meanwhile, a hearing in a separate lawsuit, which was filed to determine whether the state or the county should pay for legal bills up to this point, will apparently be held later this month.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Putnam County Commission To Meet

The Putnam County commission has a number of items to consider when they meet in regular session Tuesday night.  Auditors are recommending that the county do away with its Parks and Recreation board, making the Parks department another function of county government, operated in a way similar to that of the Solid Waste department. The first step toward doing that is the publication of a notice that announces the dissolution of the P & R board.  The commission will be voting on whether to do that.  They'll also be voting on whether to get out of a contract with a software company out of Texas, which had been given a half million dollar bid to write a software package for the local court system. Technology director Randy Porter says the company was asking for more money than they had originally said it would take to do the job.

Snow Day Make-Up Plan Now In Place

With the likelihood of snow increasing later this week, Putnam County school officials have now decided how they will begin to make up the days that they may have to miss.  The school calendar has thirteen snow days built into it, but ten of those have already been used up.   If the weather causes classes to be canceled for three more days, school officials say they will first look to going on the Presidents Day holiday and will then begin adding 30 minutes to the school day in order to make up for the missed time.  But, again, that's only if they call off classes for more than the 13 total days allotted in the calendar. Going longer during the day will allow them to make up one snow day for every thirteen days of class, and officials say the option after that is to add days on to the end of the school year.  They say they will NOT be changing the scheduled Spring Break because that would be too disruptive on the potential travel plans of both students and teachers.

Trailer Quarantined After Meth Lab Discovery

A mobile home on Dixon Lane has been quarantined after deputies with the Putnam County sheriff's department allege they found a meth lab at that location.  Authorities say they were following up on a tip about meth being made at a trailer, located at 2333 Dixon Lane, when they discovered what they described as a "one-pot" lab in a back bedroom.  They say they also found several ingredients commonly used to make meth in the trailer, including coffee filters, charcoal fluid and lithium batteries. Five people who were inside the residence at the time of the investigation were taken into custody on drug charges. The owner of the mobile home reportedly told authorities that he had found a bag containing the items in his driveway and did not know what they were used for.

Alcott Cello Recital Features Godes

Dan Allcott will give a cello recital this Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at Tennessee Tech University . Allcott will be accompanied by TTU colleague Catherine Godes on the piano in music by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. Although more frequently seen as the conductor of both the Bryan Symphony and University Orchestra in Cookeville, Allcott is an accomplished cellist and holds degrees in cello performance from Drake University and the world re-known Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. At IU, he was the first student to be accepted into the doctoral program in both cello and conducting studies. Admission to the event is free.

Legal Aid Society Releases Health Law Brochures

Cookeville area residents who want to know how the new health care law might affect them can now pick up a series of brochures put together by the Legal Aid Society. The agency has released three new brochures, which they say are intended to discuss how Tennesseans can use the new health reform law. They explain new benefits for people who have Medicare, private insurance or no insurance. The material is available for free from the organization's office in Cookeville, located at 9 South Jefferson Avenue, Suite 102. The brochures can also be downloaded from the Legal Aid Society website, Neil McBride, co-author of the brochures, said in a news release that he hopes the material helps people get the benefits due them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Deadline Extended For Buying Reduced Price Tix

Golden Eagle fans who plan to attend the Ohio Valley Conference Basketball Tournament in Nashville, from March 2nd through the 5th, have until the end of January to purchase all-session tickets for the reduced price of $60 each. The deadline has been extended one month by the conference office. For the first time the entire tournament, featuring the top eight men's and top eight women's teams, will be played in Nashville instead of first round games being played at campus sites. Officials say the new format will allow fans to plan ahead to attend the tournament, and the all-session pass offers a significant savings over purchasing individual session tickets. Tennessee Tech fans may purchase the OVC Tournament all-session tickets at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center.

Valentine's Day Arraignment Set In Drug Cases

A February 14th court date has been set for three local residents, charged with promotion of methamphetamine.  Authorities say the three were arrested after they investigated a report of intoxicated individuals causing a disturbance at Walgreens.  Police claim they found pseudoephedrine pills, lithium batteries, and other components common to the manufacture of meth in the suspects' vehicle.  They were identified as 29-year-old William Joseph Pedigo of Baxter, 25-year-old Daniel Lynn Kirby of Sparta, and 25-year-old Andrea Jade Wilhite of Baxter. Each was jailed under a $5,000 bond, pending their court appearance. Wilhite had reportedly been arrested earlier this month for violating probation in another case.

Children's Theatre Program Begins This Week

The Cookeville Children's Theatre Academy will be having an open house and registration event Monday afternoon and Thursday evening. Organizers say the Academy teaches children about drama, music and the technical side of theatre. This year's registration and open house is being held from 5:30 to 6:30 Monday evening, and from 6 to 8 pm on Thursday.  The event takes place at the theatre's rehearsal hall, located at 521 North Willow Avenue. Director Jennifer Welch says the Academy features six classes -- including one which gives very young students an introduction to theatre. The theatre class for the older students, called Rising Stars, focuses on hands-on training in theatre, music and dance. Each class will last for ten weeks. The cost is $120 per student. For more information, call 528-5437.

TTU, Roane State Now Offering Dual Enrollment

Officials say a new agreement between Roane State Community College and Tennessee Tech University means double the support for students striving to earn a college degree.  TTU President Bob Bell and Roane State President Gary Goff signed the Dual Admissions Program agreement, which offers Roane State students the advantage of a structured plan for completing an associate's degree and then enrolling at TTU to pursue a bachelor's degree. The Tennessee Board of Regents initiated the Dual Admissions contracts, and Roane State was the first to sign a contract with Tech. Dual admission allows students to have direct contact with the faculty and staff of both schools. It also provides enhanced advisement and transition support services. Dually admitted students first enroll at Roane State, complete an associate's degree and then enroll at TTU.  Debbie Thurman, TTU's associate director, says the transferring between institutions will be an easier process, and more students are expected to take advantage of this new plan.

MLK Day Activities Set For Local Students

Area high school and college students will honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17 by creating short videos that officials say can change the community.  The Power of Putnam, Tennessee Tech University's Office of Minority Affairs and TTU's Service Center have organized a service project to kickoff a semester of service. The project's goal is to have area students create 30-second videos to address the dangers of substance abuse by teens.

"This event is open to high school and college students," said Justin Sweatman, Power of Putnam youth coordinator. "Students are asked to bring their flip cameras or other video cameras and their laptops. They can also bring props if they like, just nothing too large."

Students are encouraged to look at the videos on the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign at to see some sample videos. Videos produced during the event will be posted on the Power of Putnam's YouTube page. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, and organizers see the milestone as a perfect opportunity for Americans to remember King's life and legacy and to honor him by taking action to solve problems in their communities. Power of Putnam is a coalition that brings together community members concerned about substance abuse who want to develop and implement strategies in the community to prevent and curb the abuse.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

TTU Cancels Classes For A Second Day

For the second day this week, officials at Tennessee Tech University have decided to call off classes. A statement on the University's website says: Due to the unsafe conditions caused by the inclement weather, Tennessee Tech University classes are cancelled on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 13 and 14. University offices will be open, and food services will be available to the campus community.  Late registration fees (for course selection and fee payment) will be waived until 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, January 19.  And all Friday off-campus classes, which include the 2+2 program, are cancelled.  However, the University says that Saturday's Praxis exam will be given as scheduled.

Putnam Habitat Accepting Applications

Applications for the Habitat for Humanity ownership program are now being accepted by Putnam County Habitat for Humanity. The local housing ministry works with the applicant and members of the community to build a safe, decent, and affordable home; which in turn the applicant purchases from Habitat with a zero-interest mortgage. The three criteria Habitat requires are: a need for housing (living in poor substandard conditions, living with family, and/or in a cost-burdened situation); ability to pay for the home (reliable income and reasonable credit); and the willingness to partner with Habitat through their Sweat Equity and Educational hour requirements. Applicants must have lived or been working in Putnam County for at least twelve months, as the local chapter only builds in Putnam County. Applicants must also be legal US residents.
“Each year we encourage the public to help us spread the work on our application period. Some of the best results come from someone understanding our program and encouraging another family to apply” says Nancy Denehie, Family Services Coordinator.

These applications are for homes to be built in 2012 and 2013. The deadline is March 31, 2011. The applications are available at the Habitat website, and at their offices at 728 E. 15th St., Cookeville, TN 38501. (Monday thru Thursday). For more information call 528-1711 ext. 5. Since 1995, PCHFH has provided affordable homeownership opportunities for 56 families, adding $5 million to the property tax base of Putnam County. This year, PCHFH will begin an additional program – Neighborhood Revitalization – working in particular neighborhoods with the residents to provide housing solutions and strengthen the community bond within the neighborhood. For information on PCHFH visit their website at On-line giving is also available at the website. You can also follow PCHFH on Facebook.

Dr. Seth Tucker Earns Specialty Certification

The Board of Pharmaceutical Specialties (BPS) has awarded Cookeville's Dr. Seth Tucker a certification in Pharmacotherapy. Dr. Tucker has been a pharmacist at Cookeville Regional for two years. Pharmacotherapy is the area of pharmacy practice that is responsible for ensuring the safe, appropriate, and economical use of drugs in patient care. The pharmacotherapy specialist has responsibility for direct patient care, often functions as a member of a multidisciplinary team, and is frequently the primary source of drug information for other healthcare professionals.  Dr. Tucker received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2001 from the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center College of Pharmacy. After completing a Pharmacy Practice Residency in 2002, he cared for patients in a variety of arenas including ambulatory care clinics, community pharmacies, and health-systems. He joined the pharmacy staff at CRMC in 2008. Dr. Tucker is a faculty preceptor and associate professor for the University of Tennessee, Health Science Center College of Pharmacy. He is a member of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy and is also active in the Tennessee Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Seth is married to Missy Tucker and they have one son Eli.

Putnam Schools Get Grant For Teacher Salaries

The Putnam County school system will be getting a $3.1 million dollar grant as part of the federal "First To The Top" program. The Tennessee Department of Education announced that Putnam was one of only four school systems that will receive Innovation Acceleration Fund grants to assist them in designing and/or implementing alternative salary schedules. Building on initiatives in First to the Top to increase educator effectiveness through innovative compensation structures, officials say that newly adopted alternative salary schedules will reward teachers and principals for their ability to increase student achievement levels.

“Performance-based compensation is one strategy to recruit, retain, and reward our teachers,” Education Commissioner Bruce Opie said. “Tennessee is increasing our efforts to find and support the best possible talent for our schools, and we expect alternative compensation systems to encourage the same in return.”

First to the Top funds supply the competitive Innovation Acceleration Fund with a total of $12 million dollars to be dispersed over the course of a one-year planning period, along with three years of implementation. The discretionary grants are awarded based on the district’s teacher count and annual progress reports to ensure continuous funding throughout the grant.  Putnam County will use the funds to address such priorities as teacher recruitment and retention and long-term sustainability of new compensation systems after the term of the grant has expired. Compensation packages may be aligned with new career paths and include base salaries, as well as performance and retention bonuses and guaranteed professional benefits.

Officials Say Winter Weather Threat Is Not Over

With most of the nation reporting measurable snowfall in the last week, officials with the Putnam County Emergency Services say it's easy to think the end is in sight once the snow has stopped. But spokesman Brandon Smith says Putnam County, like many areas, has not seen the end of extremely cold temperatures. Ane he says these temperatures will continue to cause problems for many citizens. With temperatures forecasted to warm up slightly through the weekend, much of the area’s snow may begin to melt. But with temperatures dropping back down again at night, the melting can quickly turn to ice.

“There are really two main problems we are concerned with. We are seeing people falling on the ice, and we are concerned about those with major medical problems getting out in the cold.” said Smith, who is Public Safety Officer for Putnam County 911 and EMS. “Many people forget that their doctors have cautioned them again being exposed to extremely cold air, and especially exertion during the cold like shoveling snow or cleaning of a snow-covered vehicle.”

Ice that is present in areas such as driveways or parking lots, where vehicles have packed down or blown away the covering snow are the areas that are the most dangerous. There also remain to be many snow and ice covered roads throughout the city and county. Tyler Smith, Emergency Management Agency Director states “Back roads are always tricky because they just aren’t travelled enough to keep them clear, and in many cases they are shaded from the sun as well. We encourage everyone to slow down and pay close attention to the roadways”

With winter weather also come problems for the extremely young and extremely old. Take caution to bundle up young children when going outside, limit time spent outside, and frequently check on elderly or disabled friends and family members.

“We want everyone to stay safe, and this type of weather is not something we get enough of to really get used to. The easiest way to keep from having problems is to just slow down. Drop your speed when driving, walk slowly and pay attention, and limit outdoor physical activity as much as possible” reminds Brandon Smith.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Former Teacher Gets Pre-Trial Diversion

A former Putnam County schoolteacher will have to stay out of trouble for the next two years to avoid going to jail. 58-year-old Bruce Anderson received pre-trial diversion on a charge of sexual battery involving a former student. Anderson had been a teacher for more than 30 years when an 18-year-old student accused him last year of inappropriate touching.  He resigned from his job soon thereafter. In his application for diversion, Anderson reportedly admitted to the incident, saying that it was "immature" and that he had blurred the lines between professional and personal relationships.  Under the agreement reached this week, Anderson will not go to trial, but will be be under probation for two years and will be eligible to have his record cleared if he has no other run-ins with the law.

Record Number of TTU Athletes Make Honor Roll

The Athletics Director’s Honor Roll for the 2010 Fall semester at Tennessee Tech has smashed the school record with an all-time high of 217 students who achieved grades of 3.0 or higher. The exclusive Gold Club, recognizing those students with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, also hit a new high at 49 honorees.

"Our numbers seem to grow higher each semester, and that’s a tribute to our student-athletes, our coaches and our staff for making academics such a high priority,” said Director of Athletics Mark Wilson. “Everyone within the athletics department, as well as all throughout the campus community, can be extremely proud of the student-athletes at Tennessee Tech as they continue to set high standards in the classroom. They are students in the truest sense of the word.”

It marks the third consecutive semester that the Honor Roll has topped 200, and the total of 217 eclipsed the previous high of 2010 set in the 2009 Fall Semester. The 2010 Spring semester lists included 201 names. The Gold Club listing of 49 beat the previous record of 40, set in the 2007 Fall semester. The next highest Gold Club total was 37, coming in the 2007 Spring period.

Woman's Heart Event Set For CRMC

The Heart and Vascular Center and The Foundation at Cookeville Regional Medical Center will be sponsoring the fourth annual “A Woman’s Heart” event for women in honor of American Heart Month and to raise money to promote awareness about women and heart disease.  “A Woman’s Heart” will be held on Thursday, February 3 from 5:00-8:00 pm at the Leslie Town Centre. The event will feature a fashion show hosted by Merle Norman/Beauty Queens Boutique, live/silent auctions and a special presentation by Judy Duke/Aunt Mattie. Hors d’oeuvres, wine and other beverages will be available and all attendees will receive a gift bag. Throughout the evening attendees will be randomly selected for free 10-minute hand massages compliments of Ella Spa in Cookeville.  In addition, Cardiologists Michael Lenhart, M.D. and Mark Wathen, M.D. of Tennessee Heart will talk about women and heart disease and provide valuable information for women to help protect themselves from heart disease.

“According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer of women,” says Colleen Schabacker, Director of the Respiratory Care Department and Sleep Lab at Cookeville Regional and Chairperson of this year’s event. “And the good news is that with early prevention you can lower your risk significantly.”

“Our hope is that through events such as these and increased education in our communities that women will become more aware of heart disease as it pertains to them and we will see a decrease in the women it affects in our region,” adds Schabacker. “Proceeds from this annual event will begin providing patient assistance for heart health services through a new charitable fund called the Humble Hearts Fund. Through the hospital’s Foundation, this fund will benefit heart patients in need throughout the Upper Cumberland.”

All women in the Upper Cumberland are invited to attend this event and tickets are $20 each. Advanced registration is recommended. All proceeds from the registration and silent auction will be used to raise awareness for women’s heart health and to help fund the Humble Hearts Fund. For more information or to register, call The Foundation at Cookeville Regional at (931) 783-2037.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cookeville Police Considering "E-Tickets"

Cookeville police chief Bob Terry says his department continues to explore ways to increase efficiency through the use of technology. He says there's a "fair chance" that the department may start using what are called "e-tickets," rather than having officers writing out citations by hand.  Although no decisions have been made, Terry says the devices work by scanning the bar code on the back of a driver's license and then entering the infractions on a handheld computer. Terry says if "e-ticketing" happens, it would save time not only on traffic stops, but on the need later on for data entry of hand-written tickets into the department's computer system.

Surveillance Video Used Again In Investigation

Cookeville police have already used a surveillance video to charge a man with stealing a cell phone, and detectives hope that a similar video may help them solve a case of auto burglary.  It happened in the parking lot of of the Arby's restaurant on South Willow Avenue last Friday.  A man told police that he had left his car in that lot while he ran some errands with a friend.  When he returned to the unlocked vehicle a few hours later, he found that someone had been in it and had stolen a power supply that had been in the back seat.  And police say surveillance cameras from Arby's captured the apparent burglary. They show someone pulling up next to the victim's vehicle in a newer model red Ford Eclipse. The video then shows a heavy set woman get out of the vehicle, look into the victim's car, and then open the door and take something. Detectives are in the process of trying to identify the car and the thief.

"Snow Days" Continue To Pile Up In Putnam

Although they make their decisions on a day to day basis, some Putnam County school officials are already considering what they should do if the school system runs out of the "snow days" that are built in to the calendar on an annual basis.  It's a problem they had to face last year when they exceeded their allotment of 13 days and decided to hold classes on Election Day last May -- a day that they normally would have taken off.  Director of Schools Dr. Kathleen Airhart says IF the school system once again uses up all of their snow days this year -- and that's not happened yet, the options for making them up would include using Spring Break, going on Saturdays or extending the school year.  She has previously said that she's not generally in favor of using Spring Break. Airhart also says that Tennessee state law mandates that all schools within the system remain on the same calendar, which makes it difficult to have schools open in Cookeville, but closed in Monterey.

Tech To Battle UT Martin For 1st Place In OVC

With three teams currently tied atop the Ohio Valley Conference, the Tennessee Tech women's basketball team will look to make it a little less crowded as they host the UT Martin Skyhawks Thursday.  This will be the 57th meeting between the Golden Eagles and the Skyhawks with TTU owning the series edge at 43-13. Over the last three seasons Tech has controlled the series winning five of six games including an 85-41 decision in their last meeting. Tech is 10-and-4 overall, with a 4-and-1 OVC record. The women recently won their fourth OVC contest of the season with a 78-69 decision against Eastern Kentucky last Saturday. Five Golden Eagles reached double-figures in points with sophomore guard Kellie Cook leading the way with 15. UT Martin currently holds a 9-and-7 record and is 5-and-2 in its last seven games. The Skyhawks also own a 4-and-1 OVC record with wins over Murray State, Tennessee State, Eastern Kentucky and Austin Peay, with their only loss coming to Morehead State. Opening tip between the Golden Eagles and the Skyhawks is set for 5:30 p.m., at the Hooper Eblen Center.

Fundraising Underway For Pipe Organ Renovation

Officials at Tennessee Tech are hoping to raise some money this year to do what they are calling an "instrument renovation project" on the pipe organ in Wattenbarger auditorium.  The project as planned would allow the instrument to enjoy the benefits of 21st century technology while better expressing its music. Music professor Gerald Hansen says TTU's organ has great untapped potential. Some of the organ's immediate needs are physical adjustments that could be expected in an instrument that is a half-century old. Other aspects will incorporate modern digital technology to allow the sound of wind-driven music to soar from the pipes both visible and hidden. Structural updates along with other desired improvements to modernize the organ would cost nearly $100,000. So, for now, Hansen is trying to raise $6,000 from private individuals to correct what he and others see as the most pressing maintenance needs this year. He'll be conducting a pipe organ recital on January 17th to help publicize the need.  The recital is free and open to the public. To find out more about the fund-raising effort, contact Jim Brock at TTU at 372-3055.

Putnam Woman Charged With TennCare Fraud

A Putnam County woman has been indicted in Rutherford County for TennCare fraud involving “doctor shopping,” or using TennCare to go to multiple doctors in a short time period to obtain prescriptions for a controlled substance.  The Office of Inspector General (OIG) with the assistance of the Rutherford and Putnam County Sheriff’s Offices, today announced the arrest of Anna Ledford, 53, of Monterey. Ledford is charged with three counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain a controlled substance by “doctor shopping.” Ledford failed to disclose to her doctor that she had seen other physicians within a 30-day period and received a prescription for the strong painkillers Morphine Sulfate, Oxycodone and Endocet, a brand drug for Percocet, with the physician office visits and prescriptions being paid for by TennCare.

“Certain prescription drugs are classified as controlled substances because they have a dangerous potential for abuse and addiction,” Inspector General Deborah Faulkner said. “TennCare pays for such medications when prescribed under the direction and supervision of a physician, but we’re committed to pursuing those cases involving fraud and abuse especially when these classifications of dangerous drugs are involved.”

The TennCare fraud charges against Ledford could result in a two year sentence per charge, if convicted. District Attorney General William C. Whitesell, Jr. is prosecuting. The OIG, which is separate from TennCare, began full operation in February 2005 and has investigated cases leading to over $2.5 million paid in restitution and recoupment to TennCare, with a total estimated cost avoidance of over $171 million for the TennCare program, according to latest figures. To date, over 1,300 people have been charged with TennCare fraud.

Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program established by the Legislature, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or log on to and follow the prompts that read "Report TennCare Fraud."

Winter Weather Continues To Cause Problems

Cookeville area residents are dealing with the third round of snow in the past four days as they try to take care of business today.  Officials say a combination of snow, sleet, and freezing drizzle is the problem today as road crews try to keep the streets clear.  Sub-freezing temperatures overnight also contributed to additional problems -- causing re-icing on some roads that crews were able to get cleared on Monday. Putnam County road supervisor Randy Jones says that salt supplies are running a bit low and that he may have to purchase more than he had originally budgeted to get through what has been described as a "very active winter weather season."  Meanwhile, the National Weather Service says the chances for frozen precipitation decrease a bit after today, but the temperatures will also drop significantly for the rest of the week.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Court Date Set For Drug Suspects

Two people from Monterey and one from Crossville will be in court on January 31st after being charged with promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine.  Cookeville police say 29-year-old Lisa Marie Barnwell, 27-year-old Mark Allison Wilson, and 28-year-old Gerrell Wayne Jackson Jr. were arrested after an investigation of a shoplifting incident at K-Mart.  Store officials told police that they had observed two men stealing coffee filters, a coffee pot and camping supplies.  They got a tag number from the suspects' vehicle and it was later stopped on Tenth Street, where police allege they found three boxes of pseudoephedrine and several other ingredients common to manufacture of meth.  Two young children in the car were taken to the hospital for evaluation of possible meth contamination and later released into the custody of relatives.

Tickets Going On Sale For Date Night

Tickets are scheduled to go on sale Saturday for the 23rd annual Father-Daughter Date Night, sponsored by the Cookeville Department of Leisure Services. Organizers say the event this year will be held over three evenings -- Thursday, February 17th, Friday, February 18th and Saturday, February 19th, beginning at six o'clock each night.  They say  tickets for the Friday and Saturday night dates tend to go quickly and encourage anyone who wants to participate on those nights to get their tickets on Saturday, between 8 and 10 am at the Cane Creek Recreation Center.  Additional ticket sales will be conducted starting next Tuesday at 8 am.  Tickets are $25 per person.  For more information, you can call 520-4386.

Local Landmark To Be Considered For Register

A long-time Cookeville restaurant and night spot will soon be considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. John's Place on Gibson Avenue is one of several sites that will be looked at when the State Review Board meets on January 19th in Nashville.  The Board will vote on nine nominations from across the state. Those nominations that are found to meet the criteria will be sent for final approval to the National Register of Historic Places at the U.S. Department of the Interior. The State Review Board is composed of 13 people with backgrounds in American history, architecture, archaeology or related fields. It also includes members representing the public. The National Register program was authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The public is invited to attend the meeting.

Craft Center To Hold Workshops

If one of your goals for the new year is to break out of the same old, same old and try something new, then take the scenic drive to Tennessee Tech University's Appalachian Center for Craft and immerse yourself in a hands-on craft workshop this spring or summer. The Craft Center is offering one eight-week, evening clay workshop starting in February, as well a full range of workshops from May through July.  The evening workshop, entitled "Wheel Throwing & Handbuilding Techniques in Clay" will meet each Monday night from 6 to 9 p.m., starting Feb. 21 and running through April 18 (with no class session scheduled for the week of spring break). The class is designed for beginning and intermediate-level participants and will focus on techniques for wheel throwing and handbuilding vessels, plates, bowls, cups, vases, and more.

"The eight-week evening workshops offered by the Craft Center really give participants an opportunity to explore the craft medium," said Beth Smith, marketing and program manager at the Craft Center. "The additional contact time with the instructor and opportunity to become familiar with the studio environment truly enhances the experience. Even if you've never touched clay, you'll enjoy learning in a fun and relaxed environment."

The Craft Center will also be hosting a wide array of weekend, one-week, and three-week intensive workshops from early May through late July in blacksmithing, clay, fibers, glass, metals, and woodworking. The one-week classes can be taken for one hour of elective credit, and the three-week intensive workshops can be taken for three credit hours. The full schedule, along with workshop descriptions, how to take classes for credit, and fee information, is currently available online. The Appalachian Center for Craft overlooks Center Hill Lake near Smithville and is conveniently located approximately 6 miles from Interstate 40 at Exit 273 (Smithville/McMinnville). Take Hwy 56 South and turn left immediately crossing Hurricane Bridge over Center Hill Lake. For more information about the Appalachian Center for Craft's workshop program, call the Craft Center at 931-372-3051, e-mail craftcenter@tntech.eduThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit

CRMC To Host Community Health Fair

Cookeville Regional Medical Center will be hosting its quarterly Health and Fitness Fair on Saturday, January 22 from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. The Health Fair is open to the public and provides an opportunity for community members to participate in affordable health screenings to stay abreast of their health. A new free screening is being introduced at this health fair. The screening is for a condition called Hereditary Emphysema or Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) Deficiency. Hereditary Emphysema is a genetic disorder resulting from a deficiency from Alpha-1 Antitrypsin. Individuals who have any of the following symptoms/conditions may be more likely to have AAT deficiency:

o COPD – Emphysema, Chronic Bronchitis or Bronchiectasis

o Family history of: Emphysema/COPD, AAT Deficiency, liver disease, or panniculitis

o Asthma with minimal response to medication, inhalers

o Early-onset of emphysema (age of 45 years or less)

The American Lung Association estimates that there are approximately 100,000 people in the United States who suffer from AAT deficiency, and up to 90% of those with the deficiency are undiagnosed. Early detection is very important and it only involves taking a blood sample via a simple finger stick.

Other numerous affordable screenings available at the Health Fair include:

• Blood Pressure

• Cholesterol and Lipid Profile

• Vitamin D Level

• Prostate Specific Antigen

• Bone Density Screening

• Complete Blood Count

• Oxygen Saturation

• Complete Chemistry Profile

• Thyroid Profile

• Hemoglobin A1C

• Blood Type

• Vascular Screening

• Hereditary Emphysema or Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT) Deficiency

The health fair will be held in the hospital’s Education Center located inside the East entrance of the hospital beside the Emergency Room. Registration is required to attend. To register and to see complete pricing of screenings, please visit the hospital’s website at or call The Community Wellness Department at (931) 783-2587. Cash, check and credit cards will be accepted.

Snowstorm Affecting Travel In Cookeville Area

Depending on where you are today, you can look out the window and see anywhere from two to six inches of snow. The National Weather Service says even more snow is being forecast for tonight and tomorrow, which will add to the accumulation. Salt trucks have been out, but authorities are saying that you should avoid any unnecessary travel in this kind of weather. If you DO have to get out, "Slow down and be aware of your surroundings." That's the advice of Cookeville police. Police say in spite of the efforts of road crews, many thoroughfares throughout the area are snow-covered and not expected to improve much until it stops snowing.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cookeville Man Confronts Mt. Juliet Officer

Authorities say a Wilson County grand jury will decide whether criminal charges will be pursued against a Cookeville man who got into a confrontation back on January 3rd with an off-duty police officer in Mount Juliet. The officer reportedly made a hand gesture toward 61-year-old Ernest W. Paulus Jr., and the confrontation escalated from there. According to the Tennessean newspaper, the incident occurred around 7:30 a.m. Jan. 3. Mt. Juliet Police Cpl. Paul Foutch had just finished working the midnight shift, dropped his children off at school and was driving West on Interstate 40 when a truck driven by Paulus made a quick lane change.  Mt. Juliet Police Chief Andy Garrett said the lane change caused Foutch to “take evasive measures to prevent a crash.”  The police officer made a hand gesture to Paulus, Garrett said. And after the two men further exchanged gestures and verbal comments, Paulus followed Foutch off of the interstate onto the exit ramp to Mt. Juliet Road.  The chief said in a statement that while both cars were stopped, Paulus got out of his company truck and approached Foutch, who was driving his personal car. Paulus pounded on Foutch’s window, and Foutch, who was wearing a hat with the word “police” on it, told Paulus that he was a police officer and asked him to step away.  After Foutch repeated himself, Paulus raised his hand. Foutch pushed Paulus back on the shoulder. Paulus then slapped the officer, and the officer then struck Paulus, Garrett said.  Passersby then called on duty police to the scene. Garrett said rather than investigating an incident involving one of their own, Mt. Juliet Police turned over all of their information to the district attorney

Court Date Set For Suspected Thief

A January 24th arraignment has been set for a Putnam County man, charged with theft of property after allegedly stealing a cell phone from a local restaurant.  Police say the surveillance video at Taste of China restaurant on North Washington Avenue captured 21-year-old Nephthali Damian DaChoute allegedly reaching over the counter at the business and stealing the Iphone of one of the employees.  The phone was valued at $300. Detectives reportedly identified DaChoute from that video and issued a warrant for his arrest, which was served last week.

Tech Softball Schedule Announced For 2011

An 11-game homestand in March including a tournament with a challenging field, a new wrinkle in the Ohio Valley Conference race, 23 home contests and several NCAA Tournament opponents highlight Tennessee Tech’s 55-game softball schedule in 2011, announced this week by head coach Tory Acheson. Acheson’s squad gets his 13th season at Tech underway by playing 14 consecutive games on the road, including tournaments at Georgia State, North Texas and Chattanooga, plus a doubleheader at Belmont to kick off the month of March. In all, 10 games on the schedule are against teams that played last spring in the NCAA Tournament. The list includes Syracuse, Nebraska, Louisville, Jacksonville State, Kentucky and Lipscomb. JSU and Louisville will meet Tech in Cookeville. In fact, Tech plays 23 games at home, 10 on neutral fields and 22 as the visiting team, all leading up to the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament, scheduled for May 12-14 at the site of the regular season champion. Among the early season contests are games against Syracuse, Nebraska, Northern Iowa, North Texas, Toledo and Northwestern State. After that, the Golden Eagles open a 11-game stretch on their home field by hosting the Tech Combat Classic, March 4-6. The field includes Middle Tennessee, North Carolina State, Belmont and Louisville.

Snow Forecast Brings People To Local Stores

As one weather system after another brings snow, sleet and ice to the Cookeville area, people have been heading out to local stores to stock up on snow shovels, salt, groceries and other supplies. The shelves at some stores are beginning to be depleted -- at least of some items. The parking lot was full Sunday afternoon at the Algood Walmart. Clerks were stocking shelves with dairy products, meat, and frozen food, among other things. There was a steady stream of customers going in to the store, and the lines to check out were long inside. Some grocery store managers say they watch the weather forecasts closely and try to plan food orders around when snow fall is supposed to arrive, but they say many people are shopping for that "just in case" situation when they cannot get out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Council Places More Restrictions On Liquor Stores

The Cookeville city council Thursday night passed on first reading an ordinance which will prevent the establishment of package liquor stores in the city's neighborhood commercial zones. City planner James Mills says the original recommendation of the planning commission had been to allow the stores in that zone and several other commercial areas, but he says they did so with the impression that there would be a total of four stores that could locate in town.  Discussion since that time has been focused on allowing the free market to determine how many stores are able to operate in Cookeville.  And, according to Mills, there may be a perception that allowing package stores to locate near residential neighborhoods could be detrimental.  Under the ordinance passed Thursday night, the stores would still be allowed in the commercial zones located along the city's major streets. Council members say they would prefer to start with a more restrictive ordinance and then remove the restrictions in the future -- if its deemed necessary.

Guilty Plea Entered In Drug Case

Two Monterey men have now pleaded guilty to possessing more than 70 pounds of marijuana and will be serving six months in jail and paying some $50,000 into the county's drug fund.  Authorities say 25-year-old Adolfo Garza and 35-year-old Travis Geer entered the guilty pleas this week.  The two had been charged in 2008 after an investigation at Geer's home.  They received a ten-year sentence -- suspended to six months with an agreement to pay the fines.  The two will reportedly paid the first $35,000 in a lump sum. The remaining $15,000 will be paid by the two in $500 per month payments beginning 30 days after they complete their jail sentences. Meanwhile, authorities say three other men who were charged in the case have failed to show up for their court dates and are now considered fugitives.

Putnam Parks Board To Be Dismantled

Putnam County commissioners next week will begin the process of dismanting the board which oversees the county's Parks and Recreation Department.  County executive Kim Blaylock says auditors have recommended that the parks department and the county library become departments of county government.  In the past, those two departments have operated somewhat independently of county government while still receiving funding from them.  Blaylock says a committee made up mostly of county commissioners would probably be appointed to hear any complaints about the operation of the parks department.  She says the re-organization of the library board would take a bit more time because the city of Cookeville also contributes to its funding.

More Winter Weather On The Way?

The National Weather Service office in Nashville says the Cookeville-area could get anywhere from one to three inches of snow overnight and on Friday.  Forecasters say a fast moving disturbance will move southeast, from the northern plains into and through middle Tennessee late tonight and Friday. A winter weather advisory is in effect on Friday from 4 am to 6 pm. It covers the geographic area of northeast middle Tennessee and the nothern part of the Cumberland Plateau.  Right now, the weather service says that snow accumulations of one to three inches can be expected.  They say a winter weather advisory means that periods of snow will cause travel difficulties. You should be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

Students Advised On Renting Textbooks

The University Bookstore is encouraging Tennessee Tech students to get a jumpstart on the semester by checking in and taking care of their book needs.  Bookstore manager Angela O'Connor says the store has new, used or even digital textbooks, which students can purchase or rent for the semester. TTU had the highest percentage of students who rented textbook this fall in the region. Almost 50 percent of students rented books last semester. O"Connor says the rental program has several advanages:

• Students can pay the rental fees using any form of payment currently accepted by the bookstore – including campus debit cards.
• Students can highlight or mark the rented books just as they would if they purchased a book and planned to sell it back to the bookstore.

• Students can convert their rental to a purchase during the first two weeks of class.

• The rental period is for the duration of the term/semester. Books are due back at the bookstore no later than 10 days after the last day of finals. Students can return the books in person or mail them to the bookstore.

• Courtesy e-mails will go out as the end of the term/semester approaches reminding students to return their books. Books not returned (or returned in unusable condition) will be subject to replacement and processing fees.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Two Burglars Arrested In Separate Cases

Court dates are scheduled later this month for two Cookeville-area residents, charged with aggravated burglary in two separate incidents.  Police say 50-year-old Terry Glen Looper of Algood was charged after an investigation of a break-in on Garden Lane. Police say he allegedly forced his way into a home there under the belief that he was at a location where he had previously purchased drugs.  Meanwhile, 27-year-old Stephen Lee Hood of Sparta was arrested after the sheriff's department investigated a burglary on Cookeville Boat Dock Road.  Hood allegedly had an accomplice convince the homeowner to leave the area, but she returned home in the midst of the burglary.